Oxycontin is a prescription drug and controlled substance used to treat chronic pain for people with cancer, arthritis, and other ailments. Healthcare professionals reserve this medication for those patients experiencing moderate to severe pain.
Oxycontin is the brand name for the time-released formula of Oxycodone, an opioid painkiller manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Oxycontin in 1995. Purdue Pharma released the drug the following year. The use of this synthetic opiate has grown extensively since its introduction. The FDA and DEA classify this drug as a Schedule II controlled substance.
Even though Oxycontin requires a prescription, it has become one of the most in-demand recreational opioids in the U.S., helping to spark an opiate and opioid epidemic. The number of people dying from opioid overdoses is growing each year.
How Oxycontin Works
Oxycontin, like other opioids, functions by changing the way the nervous system and brain respond to pain. Manufacturers often mix Oxycodone with other chemicals. For example, Percodan contains Oxycodone and aspirin. Percocet, on the other hand, contains Oxycodone and acetaminophen.
Unlike these other medications, Oxycontin is pure Oxycodone. It comes in strengths of 5 milligrams through 80 milligrams. There is a time-release option with a dosage timeline of every 12 hours. With other narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin or Hydrocodone, the patient enjoys immediate release.
Oxycontin Side Effects
Even patients who take Oxycontin as prescribed may feel adverse side effects. Most opioid analgesics work the same way. The side effects of Oxycontin include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Mood changes
- Breathing problems
- Abnormal heartbeats
- Heart attack
Despite these side effects, some people who take Oxycontin develop an opiate addiction.
Misuse and Abuse of Oxycontin
Oxycontin requires a physician's prescription. It's illegal to share opiates with a friend or family member. The FDA advises that doctors should only prescribe Oxycontin for pain control in patients who can tolerate narcotic pain medication. It's highly addictive and can result in opioid-related deaths for those who overuse it.
One of the side effects of the painkiller Oxycontin is a feeling of euphoria. This has contributed to Oxycontin's popularity as a recreational drug. People who start taking the medication for medical use need more to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
People addicted to opioids find it challenging to stop using the drug. This often leads to doctor shopping to feed a patient's drug addiction.
Physical Dependence and Addiction to Prescription Opioids
One of the reasons why Oxycontin is so dangerous is that it is highly addictive. People can get addicted after just five days. To feel the effects of the drug faster, some patients start snorting the drug instead of taking it orally as instructed.
Even patients who take controlled-release tablets can find ways to crush their pills and either snort them or take them intravenously. Using and sharing needles can lead to various diseases, including hepatitis.
For some people, the effects of opioids can be highly pleasurable. They will do anything to feel these effects faster and more intensely. In addition, the body becomes tolerant and dependent on Oxycontin tablets rather quickly. This is one of the primary reasons there is so much drug abuse among back pain patients.
Symptoms of an Opiate Overdose
If your loved one is addicted to opioid drugs, you should know the signs of an opiate overdose. If you recognize the symptoms quickly enough, you may be able to reverse the overdose with a drug like Narcan (naloxone).
Some of the signs of an opiate overdose include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
- Choking or making gurgling sounds
- Limp body
- Seem to nod off continuously
- Shallow breaths
- Pale, cold skin
The dangerous thing about an opioid addiction is that it often leads to the use of opioids like fentanyl or heroin. Both of these illicit drugs are also highly addictive. Dealers often lace them with lethal chemicals.
If someone you love overdosed and died after taking tainted drugs, you may be able to sue the person who gave or sold them the drugs. If they died while taking prescription opioids, you may have a legal claim against the drug manufacturer under product liability.
Because of the highly addictive nature of the drug and the severe side effects, government agencies regulate the distribution of Oxycontin. The FDA requires that drug companies warn consumers about the dangers and risks of the drug.
Based on assurances from pharmaceutical companies, healthcare practitioners prescribe Oxycontin for pain relief at high rates. This leads to more opioid overdoses, substance abuse, and deaths.
This is the basis for lawsuits against companies like Purdue Pharma L.P. It is also one of the reasons for the public health crisis.
Next Step: Get a Free Case Review
When used for the management of pain, drugs like Oxycontin can be effective. Unfortunately, America has been under siege of an opioid epidemic for decades. Abusing and abusing opioids such as Oxycontin has led to a significant health crisis in the U.S.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the prescribing of Oxycontin, you may have a legal claim. The best way to learn is to talk to a product liability attorney. Putting the expertise of a skilled attorney to work for you can help achieve justice.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.